Come Out, For Christmas?

I’m not the only one arguing for the repeal of the Catholic Church’s own version of DADT.  At the Washington Post, Anthony Stevens-Arroyo makes the same point, adding an argument that I ignored. In days gone by, he says, a Catholic family gathering for Christmas might have quarrelled over a young family member’s improper relationship:

But if families back then anguished over whether or not a ne’er do well nephew was invited to dinner because his relationship to his “girl-friend” was considered scandalous, the debate would have ended if the name of his partner was “Charles” and not “Charlene.”

I’m fascinated by the qualifier of “days gone by” for family disapproval of (presumably) unmarried heterosexual relationships. Is this a tacit admission by Arroyo that modern Catholic families accept the unmarried sexual relationships of their near and dear – as long as they are of the opposite-sex variety?  For divorced relatives embarking in new relationships or second marriages, he makes it explicit:

Many Catholics accept divorced and remarried relatives at a Catholic Christmas celebration, because “…at least they are happy again.”

Read the rest of this entry »

This Christmas, Let Us Put Christ Back Into Christianity

At this time of year, we are accustomed to numerous pleas to “Put Christ back into Christmas”. These are entirely appropriate. The commercial binge and festive eating and drinking have nothing to do with the religious celebration of the Nativity. To the extent that secular jollity has crowded out the story of Christ, we do indeed need to put Christ back into Christmas. (However, I do not deplore the secular celebrations alongside – in the  northern winter, they are a welcome antidote to the cold and dark, and were a part of the established seasonal calendar long before the religious festival commandeered some of their features).

There is also a more important aspect of putting Christ back into Christmas: reinstating the place of Christ the man, not just the infant Jesus. Celebrate the incarnation, not just the nativity. As we do so, let us recall the full implications of Christ’s humanity, and of his words and actions as we have them in the Gospels, not as they have been distorted, sanitized and abused by centuries of theological and popular overlay to support human agendas.

For this last week of Advent, I want to explore Christmas as a time to reflect on the Incarnation, and it’s implications.  I will be looking at the remarkable absence of Christ’s words or example in the CDF teaching on sexuality, and on homosexuality in particular. In contrast, I will consider Robert Goss’s emphasis on Christology as a turning point in the development of gay and lesbian theology towards queer theology, and the Christological models of sin and grace proposed by Patrick Chen. I will reflect on the unavoidable fact of Christ’s real, physical male body. Together with Rev Cindi Love, I will ask “Would Christ Discriminate”?

Finally, I will conclude with an appeal to bring Christ back into Christianity at the most basic, personal level – by developing a strong personal relationship, growing in spirituality, by “Taking a Chance on God.”

The first instalment, on the near exclusion of Christ from the CDF writing on human sexuality, I hope to publish later today. The rest, and possibly more, will follow at intervals during the week.

 

Advent: Prepare Ye A Way For Inclusion

Advent is a solemn time of anticipation, preparing for the festive celebration of the Nativity. Christmas though, is much more than just the infant Jesus that is the focus of so many family Christmases: it is much more a celebration of the incarnation of Christ, a constant making real His presence in the world. That presence is marked by a pronounced emphasis on love, justice, and inclusion of all – including sexual minorities as well as all manner of marginalized people of His day.

In our world, that same openness and inclusion for all does not exist, not in the secular sphere, and not in the Church. If we are truly to participate in preparing for the incarnation, to contribute to building God’s Kingdom on earth, it is appropriate for this season of advent that we should reflect on the ways in which we personally can participate in preparing for this inclusion in Church.

Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic ministries to LGBT Catholics, has released an Advent statement with some suggestions, specifically geared to ending the oppression of queer youth:

Equally Blessed Advent 2010 Statement

For a Queer Christmas – Send Gay / Lesbian Cards.

Advent begins this week, and with it the season for shopping.

For all Christians, this time of year can be difficult, with tension to negotiated, between Advent as a solemn season of preparation for the important Christian festival of Christmas, and the purely secular festive season leading up to the winter solstice, which marks the mid-point of winter’s darkness and gloom.

For Christian sexual minorities (including the many straight singles and childless couples) there is an additional difficulty – the relentless emphasis in both church and stores on children and family. Kittredge Cherry at Jesus in Love Blog has come up with an ingenious way to counter this. Send your friends gay or lesbian themed Nativity cards. Love, after all, makes a family.

(I like Kitt’s use of the term “Nativity” card – the word “Christmas” has been as much distorted and misused as the festival.)

Read her original post at Jesus in Love Blog, where she makes an important point: we must remember that in the traditional Nativity story, the biological details of the birth are extraordinary. Is the idea of a same sex couple procreating any more extraordinary than the Virgin birth?

To that, I would add the observation by the Catholic theologians Salzmann & Lawler, in “The Sexual Person”: procreation refers not only to the physical production of an infant, but also the the subsequent care and nurturing of the child.  Procreation by same-sex couples is not nearly as far-fetched as some people would have us believe.

Order your nativity cards from the Jesus in Love Card Shop.

 

A Catholic Case For Blessing Civil Unions

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Gay Marriage: The Fallacy of the Church’s Argument Against.


Celebrate the Solstice.

A news report on the BBC last night stated that this year has seen a continuing rise in the number of pagans in the UK, with record numbers coming out to mark the winter solstice. I welcome this , and hope to see even more public recognition of this ancient festival. This is why.

For half a century and more, Christmas fell in the season of heat and summer holidays, a time for Braai (=Barbecue) and beach, picnics and poolside. Christmas was a religious festival and a family time, which had nothing to do with the weather.  Some christmas cards it is true, had completely inappropriate pictures of robins in the snow, of sleigh rides and other (northern) wintry scenes, but it was easy to ignore them, as it was to laugh at the “Father Christmas” figures in heavy red suits sweltering in the summer heat.  Christmas lunch presented a problem, as many people, especially the older generation, had an emotional attachment to the “traditional” (i.e. English) Christmas meal, of roast turkey, hot  Christmas pud and all the trimmings, all washed down with copious Christmas spirits. Read the rest of this entry »